Microsoft Surface Pro 4 – an Epilogue

100% human

Can it finally be cured? I’ve had some harsh things to say (see here, here and here) about the reliability of my Microsoft Surface Pro 4. But as of today, it has been running for eight days and two hours, power connected and disconnected, sometimes awake, sometimes asleep, and everything is working perfectly.

How do I know how long it has been running? You can check easily enough. Start Task Manager by right clicking on the Windows button, or pressing Windows+X, and choosing Task Manager from the menu. If there aren’t any tabs in it, click “More details”. Then click on the “Performance” tab. Near the bottom of the window “Up time” will show you how long since the current session of Windows started.

See how long your computer has been going.

So in that week-and-a-bit the Bluetooth mouse has maintained its connection, as has the Bluetooth speaker, as has the Type Cover, as has everything. And of course it has not rebooted unexpectedly, or at all.

Things weren’t always looking so good. You see, after my explication of ongoing problems with it, I decided to go nuclear and do a full factory reset. That’s Windows Settings, Update & security, Recovery, Reset this PC, Remove everything, (remove files from) “Only the drive where Windows is installed”, “Just remove my files” (rather than wiping the drive), and finally, the last step, Reset.

This is the point of no return when factory restoring a Windows 10 PC

That went smoothly. The good news was that the unit didn’t go all the way back to the original 1509 version of Windows 10, but refreshed itself with 1607, so it was pretty much up to date.

Of course, it took a few hours to get everything I wanted loaded back up again but then, perfection! For nine days the Surface Pro did (almost) absolutely nothing untoward. I could whip off the keyboard and use it as a tablet, then put the keyboard back on and it would work perfectly. There were no unexpected restarts. I was contemplating writing a triumphant post, saying that all you had to do with your ongoing Surface Pro problems was a full factory reset and reinstall your stuff and all would be fine.

But then the next day I came to my office and found that the Surface Pro had rebooted itself in the early hours of the morning for no reason (there had been no Windows updates for several days). The following day, I removed the keyboard and took the Surface Pro 4 into the house to check out the Microsoft Wireless Display Adaptor on a different TV. When I reattached the keyboard it no longer worked. A reboot didn’t help. I had to do a hard shutdown on the Surface Pro, and then a restart to make it work.

A couple of days later I came into office and shook the Microsoft Bluetooth mouse which is connected to the Surface Pro 4 with the intention of waking it up. Nothing happened. After a couple of goes, I tapped on the keyboard instead and the Surface Pro woke up. Kind of. It couldn’t start the camera for Windows Hello face recognition. I keyed in a PIN to log on and the mouse was still unresponsive, so I used the “Restart” option.

After a few hours, you start to think that perhaps it won’t ever restart.

Several hours later was still “restarting”. Eventually I forced a shutdown and then restarted it.

That was a couple months ago. But even though there have been no firmware upgrades – just the regular Windows updates – it seems to have gradually settled down. It almost never reboots by itself (absent a Windows update). It seems much better at accepting the Type Cover being detached and re-attached. The Bluetooth speaker occasionally become disconnected (but, as always, the fault lays with which device? The computer? The speaker? Perhaps both.)

Which makes me very happy indeed. Since now I can take the Surface Pro 4 travelling with me, confident that it will work. Every time. Probably.

If you are having trouble with yours, do consider a factory reset. Of course, back up your data first and make a list of all your apps so you know what to reinstall after the event. Every single thing on the device will be gone, so don’t skimp on that.